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Saturday, March 11, 2017, 18:22

South Korea election to be free, fair, held by May 9 at latest

By Agencies

South Korea election to be free, fair, held by May 9 at latest
Protesters shout slogans during a rally calling for impeached President Park Geun-hye's arrest in Seoul, South Korea, March 10, 2017. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

SEOUL- A South Korean presidential election to choose a successor to ousted leader Park Geun-hye will be free and fair and held by May 9 at the latest, the election commission chairman said on Saturday.

The Constitutional Court dismissed Park Geun-hye on Friday over a graft scandal involving the country's conglomerates . Under the constitution, an election must be held within 60 days.

The chairman of the National Election Commission, Kim Yong-deok, said in a televised address he was concerned political differences could lead to an "overheated" atmosphere in the run-up to the vote and he called on the public to overcome "conflict" and take part.

On Saturday, South Korean police braced for more violence between opponents and supporters of ousted leader Park.

Three people died and dozens were injured in clashes between police and Park's supporters after the ruling Friday, according to police, which detained seven protesters for questioning.

Park's opponents demanded that she be arrested, a day after she was thrown out of office over a corruption scandal involving the country's conglomerates.

The Constitutional Court ruling on Friday to uphold a parliamentary vote to impeach Park infuriated hundreds of her supporters, two of whom were killed as they tried to break through police lines outside the court. A third man, aged 74, had a heart attack and died on Saturday, a hospital said.

Park's critics were out in central Seoul on Saturday, where they have been gathering every weekend for months, while the former president's conservative supporters also took to the streets not far away, though fewer in number.

Police were out in force with riot shields but there were no reports of trouble.

South Korea election to be free, fair, held by May 9 at latest
The ROK's Constitutional Court upheld the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye on March 10, 2017, removing her from office over a graft scandal involving big business that has gripped the country for months. (AFP / Jeon Heon-kyun)

"Impeachment is not the end. We've not dispersed, we're still going forward, united," said one anti-Park protester who gave his name as T.H. Kim.

"She's a citizen now. If she's done something wrong, she has to be arrested."

Park, 65, is South Korea's first democratically elected leader to be forced from office. Her ouster followed months of political paralysis and turmoil over a corruption scandal that also landed the head of the Samsung conglomerate in jail and facing trial.

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